Top NL Central Prospects for 2017 Dynasty Leagues

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Welcome to the fifth of RotoBaller’s six-part midseason dynasty league prospect update! Today I am looking at the American League East Division, analyzing which prospects are going to be the best long-term assets for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues.

Just to be clear, this is an overview of the entire division, meaning prospects from all five teams will be discussed here. I am not going to delve into the value of each prospect in the teams’ respective Top 10 lists and only focusing on the elites of the elite, but we’ll do a more advanced look into each of the teams’ prospects during the offseason. And of course, if at any point you have any prospect related questions, you can hit me up @EdwardSutelan on Twitter.

By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.

Editor's note: Get a free one-week MLB Premium Pass including our famous Lineup Optimizer/Generator, Premium Matchup Ratings, DFS Lineups, Cheat Sheets, and 10 other tools. Sign Up Now!

 

NL Central Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues

Today I am continuing my list of prospect systems in the NL divisions. I have already covered the AL East, Central and West, as well as the NL East. Later, I will delve into the NL West. To read more about my prospect coverage, click here.

Top Overall Talent: Austin Meadows (OF, PIT)
Top Prospect who will Debut in 2017: Austin Meadows(OF, PIT)
If you’re looking for exciting outfield prospects, there’s probably not a better division in baseball. I had to debate between three outfield prospects — Meadows, Lewis Brinson and Eloy Jimenez — for the top spot. I ultimately settled on the guy I believe to have one of the highest floors. While Brinson and Jimenez have questions moving forward about their respective batting averages, Meadows has a 60-70-grade bat with most scouts believing he should hit for a high average with 20/20 seasons coming on an annual basis.

The biggest risk with Meadows — because there’s always some risk with nearly every prospect — is that he has been frequently injured. He has all the tools to be an elite performer at the highest level, but he has only surpassed 100 games played in one season of his nearly three-and-a-half year professional career. But if he can get healthy again this season, he has a chance to reach the majors if Andrew McCutchen is traded, and almost certainly would start next year if Cutch is traded at the deadline or over the offseason. And with his offensive upside, Meadows is worth owning in all keeper leagues.

Top Prospect who won’t Debut in 2017: Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHC)*
It was so, so, so tempting to go with Jimenez at the top spot, but he will have to settle for the No. 2 spot on my overall list. Scouts are absolutely in love with Jimenez, praising not only his steadily improving eye at the plate, but most importantly his booming bat. Scouts have long said the ball just sounds different coming off his bat. That might sound cliched, but just watch him take batting practice and literally do his best “The Natural” imitation and you too will understand. Owners will have to patient with him as the Chicago Cubs are certainly going to take their time with their top prospect, but the reward is going to be an elite bat at the end of the waiting period.

Editor's Note: Jimenez was traded to the Chicago White Sox in a deal for Jose Quintana. For those curious, he would rank as the White Sox's second-best prospect.

Biggest Boom or Bust: Corey Ray (OF, MIL)
Is it too early to start throwing the word ‘bust’ around? It might be, but Ray has looked really overmatched so far in pro ball. Originally given at least 55-grades across the board, Ray has yet to post a batting average above .250 at any level and is striking out 31.1 percent of the time at Class-A Advanced. He has also not flashed that much power, and really has only shown off the wheels so far (18 stolen bases in 65 games this season). Everyone knows the tools are there, but if the hit tool doesn’t come around a bit more, he may not be able to maximize those other tools.

Biggest Sleeper: Harrison Bader (OF, STL)
Last season, Bader crushed Double-A pitching, and everyone thought the Cardinals had their next great outfielder. Then he went to Triple-A and lost all momentum he had built up that season. It’s safe to say though that he has put all of his woes behind him so far this season. With a .296/.354/.519 slash line, 17 homers and six stolen bases, he is already just two homers shy of setting a new career-high for homers in a full pro season. Scouts still love the tools, grading him as at least average across the board, though he could move those grades up after this season’s strong showing at Triple-A. Don’t sell your stocks on him just yet.

 

Top Prospect Hitters

Best Power Hitter: Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHC)
This should not be surprising to anyone. Jimenez garnered a lot of attention when he was filmed literally knocking the lights out of a minor league stadium during the Carolina Leagues’ Home Run Derby, and is on pace for 30 home runs this season (eight bombs in 42 games). Scouts say the raw power found in Jimenez is arguably tops in the minors, with only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to really compare to him. I’ve heard some scouts say his floor is 30 homers per season. That’s pretty remarkable. If he can throw a nice batting average in there, that would just be an added bonus. But owners will gladly take that level of home run production.

Most Likely to Hit over .300: Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)
I was debating between Winker, Austin Meadows and Nick Senzel for this superlative, but ultimately Winker’s superior plate discipline landed him in this spot. A couple of fun facts on Winker: his lowest season batting average was .281 in which he hit in 2013 against Class-A pitching; he struck out over 20 percent just once at any time (21 games at Double-A in 2014); and lastly, he has never walked less than 11 percent. Owners are still waiting on the power to come, but the ability to get on-base via either a walk or a hit should prove to be valuable in many leagues. Plus the matchbox that is Great American Ballpark should help give him a bit of a power boost once he reaches the majors. He has one of the highest floors among fantasy baseball prospects, and warrants ownership in nearly all dynasty leagues.

Best Burner on the Bases: Taylor Trammell (OF, CIN)
Trammell has not seen much time at the upper levels just yet, having just been drafted last season by the Cincinnati Reds with the 35th overall pick out of high school. But he’s already put both his bat and his legs to good use in the minors. After swiping 24 bases in 61 games last season at Rookie ball, he has matched that total at the more challenging Class-A in only 20 more games than last season. He has now also hit for more power (seven homers) and has maintained a solid batting average too (.280). He reaches base a ton because of his great plate discipline and ability to make tons of contact, so he could be a 70-grade speedster who reaches base enough to fully utilize his speed. Some scouts also see him as a potential 15-homer hitter, only further adding to his value. Combine all of that and you’ve got a really exciting fantasy prospect, even if patience will be required.

 

Top Prospect Pitchers

Strikeout Machine: Alex Reyes (SP, STL)
Reyes appeared headed off all prospect lists at the beginning of 2017, but then Tommy John surgery threw his chances of reaching the majors this season out the window. But that doesn’t mean owners can just forget about him. His stuff before the surgery was outstanding. Few had a fastball that could consistently touch triple-digits as his, and he boasted one of the most diverse sets of secondary pitches among any pitching prospects. He struck out nearly 30 percent of all opposing hitters at nearly every level, and given the success rate of TJ surgery now, we should have at least some faith that he can return to that form. His stuff could make him a future ace, and owners should not bail on him just yet.

Best Command: Luke Weaver (SP, STL)
The St. Louis Cardinals have a long track record of developing great pitching prospects, so it should not be too much of a surprise that they have pitching prospects at both these positions. Weaver does not have near the stuff that Reyes has, but he can really control his arsenal of pitches. Since 2014, he has never posted a walk rate in double-digits, and has almost always been 6 percent or lower. And with him lately starting to miss more bats, he could start to emerge as a No. 2 or 3 option for the Cardinals. His combination of a high ceiling and increased strikeout rates should make him an attractive fantasy asset.

 

Top 10 Overall Dynasty Prospects for the NL Central

1. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT)
ETA: 2017

2. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHC)
ETA: 2019

3. Lewis Brinson (OF, MIL)
ETA: 2017

4. Nick Senzel (3B, CIN)
ETA: 2018

5. Carson Kelly (C, STL)
ETA: 2018

6. Alex Reyes (SP, STL)
ETA: 2018

7. Hunter Greene (SP, CIN)
ETA: 2020

8. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)
ETA: 2017

9. Jeimer Candelario (1B/3B, CHC)
ETA: 2017

10. Keston Hiura (2B/OF, MIL)
ETA: 2019

 

Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Chicago Cubs

1. Eloy Jimenez (OF, A+)*
ETA: 2019

2. Jeimer Candelario (1B/3B, AAA)
ETA: 2017

3. Dylan Cease (SP, A)*
ETA: 2019

4. Victor Caratini (C, MLB)
ETA: 2017

5. Oscar De La Cruz (SP, A+)
ETA: 2019

6. Alex Lange (SP, NA)
ETA: 2019

7. Eddy Martinez (OF, A+)
ETA: 2019

8. Mark Zagunis (OF, AAA)
ETA: 2017

9. Thomas Hatch (SP, A+)
ETA: 2019

10. Chesny Young (2B, AAA)
ETA: 2018

Editor's Note: Jimenez and Cease were both traded to the White Sox as part of the Jose Quintana trade. 

 

Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Cincinnati Reds

1. Nick Senzel (3B, AA)
ETA: 2018

2. Hunter Greene (SP, ROK)
ETA: 2021

3. Jesse Winker (OF, AAA)
ETA: 2017

4. Taylor Trammell (OF, A)
ETA: 2019

5. Luis Castillo (SP, MLB)
ETA: 2017

6. Tyler Mahle (SP, AAA)
ETA: 2017

7. Shedric Long (2B, AA)
ETA: 2018

8. Tyler Stephenson (C, A)
ETA: 2019

9. Jeter Downs (SS, ROK)
ETA: 2021

10. Aristedes Aquino (OF, AA)
ETA: 2019

 

Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Milwaukee Brewers

1. Lewis Brinson (OF, AAA)
ETA: 2017

2. Keston Hiura (2B/OF, NA)
ETA: 2019

3. Isan Diaz (2B/SS, A+)
ETA: 2019

4. Corey Ray (OF, A+)
ETA:

5. Corbin Burnes (SP, AA)
ETA: 2018

6. Brandon Woodruff (SP, MLB)
ETA: 2017

7. Josh Hader (SP/RP, MLB)
ETA: 2017

8. Luis Ortiz (SP, AA)
ETA: 2018

9. Lucas Erceg (3B, A+)
ETA: 2019

10. Ryan Cordell (OF, AAA)
ETA: 2018

 

Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Austin Meadows (OF, AAA)
ETA: 2017

2. Mitch Keller (SP, A+)
ETA: 2019

3. Cole Tucker (SS, A+)
ETA: 2019

4. Kevin Newman (2B/SS, AA)
ETA: 2018

5. Will Craig (1B/3B, A+)
ETA: 2019

6. Steven Brault (SP, AAA)
ETA: 2017

7. Nick Kingham (SP, AAA)
ETA: 2018

8. Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B, A+)
ETA: 2019

9. Luis Escobar (SP, A)
ETA: 2020

10. Shane Baz (SP, ROK)
ETA: 2021

 

Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the St. Louis Cardinals

1. Carson Kelly (C, AAA)
ETA: 2018

2. Alex Reyes (SP, NA)
ETA: 2018

3. Luke Weaver (SP, MLB)
ETA: 2017

4. Magneuris Sierra (OF, AA)
ETA: 2017

5. Harrison Bader (OF, AAA)
ETA: 2018

6. Delvin Perez (SS, ROK)
ETA: 2020

7. Jack Flaherty (SP, AAA)
ETA: 2018

8. Sandy Alcantara (SP, AA)
ETA: 2018

9. Dakota Hudson (SP, AA)
ETA: 2018

10. Eliezer Alvarez (2B, AA)
ETA: 2018